Bananalike fruit / MON 11-26-12 / Funny Martha of old TV / Wahine's greeting / Obsolescent directories / Floor machine

Monday, November 26, 2012

Constructor: Ed Sessa

Relative difficulty: Medium (-Challenging? is À VOTRE SANTÉ gonna hold some folks back ...?)

THEME: Bready breakfast — clues are breakfast foods made with flour and eggs; answers are have nothing to do with breakfast

  • 20A: Pancakes (FLATTENS OUT)
  • 41A: Waffles (BLOWS HOT AND COLD)
  • 59A: French toast (À VOTRE SANTÉ)

Word of the Day: PAPAW (64A: Bananalike fruit) —
Both the papaya and the papaw are sometimes referred to as pawpaw, which is thoroughly confusing because they're entirely different fruits. The papaw is a North American native that's a member of the cherimoya family. It can range from 2 to 6 inches long and looks like a fat, dark-brown banana. The aromatic flesh is pale yellow and peppered with a profusion of seeds. It has a custardlike texture and a sweet flavor reminiscent of bananas and pears. Papaws are seldom cultivated and are rarely found in markets. (Barron's Food Lover's Companion)

Read more:
• • •

My wife and I solved this together, with me calling out clues to her while she went about the business of baking my birthday cake. It was interesting to see how many answer she could get with seeing the grid or even knowing how many letters were in each answer, though she did think 1A: Dull-colored was DUN. Me: "I said *four* letters." Her: "DUN *is* four letters: D, U, N [puzzled look, laughter]." This theme is very cute, but I like it primarily for the host of interesting long Down answers. So many easy / high word-count puzzles lack  longer non-theme answers, which leads to excessive dullness (or DUN-ness, or DUNN-ness). But here, we get fantastic stuff like IDLE RICH, TWO-TIMED, SCALAWAG (this is starting to feel like a short story), SECOND-RATE PHONE BOOKS and NONSENSE. Lovely.

Wife's commentary on solving the puzzle without the grid in front of her: "It's weird when you don't actually sit down and look at it. It's weird how my brain works ... if you read me off a phone number, I'm lost. Are you writing down what I'm saying?..."

I always hear SCAL*I*WAG, or maybe I'm thinking of POLLIWOG. I knew PAPAW right away (had the "W") but wife did Not like the "bananalike" part of the clue, mainly due to the "pawpaw" confusion described in the PAPAW definition posted above ("pawpaw" is used to refer to two different fruits—papaya and papaw). We both wanted RUNS HOT AND COLD and had to wait on the crosses to figure out BLOWS. We both blanked on the [Algerian port]—you'd think I'd have that sorted out by now, but my brain went "well, it's not OMAN, so it must be ADEN." Wrong (it's ORAN). Best wrong answer came from my wife in response to 73A: Distinctive Marilyn Monroe feature. Me: "Starts with 'M'..." Wife: "Mmm.... MOUE?"

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld


Anonymous 12:14 AM  

A homemade birthday cake? You're a lucky man.

aloha cherla madams 12:23 AM  

Happy Birthday, Rex!

Agree word for the point where I thought the downs might be another whole theme going on!

Only difference was ain't no one making me a birthday cake.

Getting the V in MAV was harder for me than AVOTRESANTE
(Let the screaming begin)

SKY yet again. One tiny note. MAR was clued as an abbrev instead of to ruin something. I wonder why?

Rube 1:43 AM  

Came here to find out what the theme was... DUH.

That definition of a papaya is at least three steps removed from reality.... "peppered with a profusion of seeds"?? Still would like to know what a real PAPAW is.

Had one writeover DEMEANS/DEMoteS.

Did note the pleasurable downs during the solve.

Happy B-day, Rex.

chefwen 2:29 AM  

Sliced through this one like a hot knife though butter. Left PTPP in the dust, which is where I prefer him to be when it comes to puzzles. I must admit that his heart wasn't into this as our Green Bay Packers totally sucked in tonight's
game. I was waiting for the shoe to fly toward the T.V.

jae 3:25 AM  

Medium except for I vs. A in SKALAWAG/AVOTRESANTE. Had to stop and try to think in French. AV... seemed much more likely than IV... so, I guessed right. Zippy long downs and a not so obvious theme = a fine Mon.

@Sandy -- Me too for DUN with maybe two Ns? (I left it blank until the downs filled it in).

JFC 3:47 AM  

@Rex - I suppose if you are making the bread for the french toast from scratch your flour and eggs label is accurate. But who does that when stale bread works best?

@Chefwen - I was at the Bears game today sitting next to a Vikings fan. Those will be two easy wins for the Pack. I must confess, however, that I enjoyed last night's Packer - Giants game more than you did....


Anonymous 6:08 AM  

Easy Puzzl, Flowerlady9

OTD 6:25 AM  

Very easy. Done in record time. Got AVOTRESANTE by crosses. Enjoyed the long downs.

A hippy, hoppy bird day to ewe, Rex.

And homemade cake to boot.

Z 6:52 AM  

To your health.

Felt pretty medium. Got A VOTRE SANTÉ from the crosses because I wasn't expecting a complete French phrase. My only writeover was PAPAy to PAPAW.

Does BLOWS HOT AND COLD work as a clue for TWO-TIMED?

Doris 7:01 AM  

Despite being a northerner, I knew papaw (or paw paw) from singing a version of this at Girl Scout camp. Never knew it would come in handy.

QPT 7:23 AM  

Funny Music from White House Turkey

Glimmerglass 7:25 AM  

Very easy puzzle. I'm still shaking my head over PAPAW. I think the constructor (and WS) confused papaw with plantain, which does look like a banana. If there's another kind of papaw, it belongs in a Saturday puzzle.

Bob Kerfuffle 7:59 AM  

Happy Birthday, Rex!

As I solved, I was thinking of this as the IHOP puzzle - only for the crosswordese-iness of IHOP, not the food - stopped going there decades ago.

One write-over: 37 D, my Big swallows were SLUGS before SWIGS (and as I look at them, I still think I was right the first time.)

Unknown 8:01 AM  

Fun theme with some fresh fill.

joho 8:18 AM  

I loved that I didn't realize the theme was in the clues until I was done. 51A "Large amounts of bacon" as SLABS has got to fit into some recipe!

Great write-up, @Rex and Happy Birthday!!! Post a pic of your cake, please!

Thank you, Ed Sessa, you SCALAWAG, for a fun Monday puzzle that's anything but SECONDRATE!

joho 8:21 AM  

Whoops, that's 52A across with the added bacon.

Loren Muse Smith 8:36 AM  

I agree with Rex’ thought = À VOTRE SANTÉ is going to "hold some folks back." (This French major’s first thought before seeing the space was simply SANTÉ.)

And it looks like some of the crosses will be difficult for someone like my father, who won’t know À VOTRE SANTÉ, and will probably not (unlike @Z and @OTD) be able to access some key crosses -NEMO, MADAM, DAS, and RAYE, especially with AMIS and ORAN not adding any help.

So. . .it could be a prohibitively hard puzzle for some of the Monday Tuesday crowd.

But like Rex said – the longer downs are terrific – as enjoyable as the theme, which by the way I thought was so clever! And some of the shorter fare was fun – DUFF and DRAB, STREW, LEECH, SLABS. . .

AT BAT/ TIE GAME, SMOTE/BLOW, TUMS/SWIGS, LEECH/SNAIL crosses –all nice! Do you know that they still use LEECHes in hospitals???

Another theme possibility – circular tire tracks resulting from teen antics?

@joho – thanks for pointing out SLABS of bacon to boot!

@Rex – enjoy your cake and many happy returns! I made my daughter’s favorite birthday cake on Saturday – Devils Food with Seven Minute Icing.

Ed Sessa – breakfast is my favorite meal of the day, and you served up a nice accompaniment! Je vous en sais gré!

Milford 8:42 AM  

Faster than usual Monday for me, although the clues were not at all the usual stuff (OK, maybe OONA was). Never heard of nor ever used the French toast answer, but it looks like I have a reason to today: Happy Birthday, Rex! À VOTRE SANTÉ!

Liked those fun long downs, like TWO-TIMED and SCALAWAG. IDLE RICH reminds me of a song from "Finian's Rainbow".

That PAPAW clue may be wrong, I agree. But I love the rest of this chewy food fest puzzle. We even have NILLA wafers! And I'm with @joho, I want a photo of the cake.

Waaaaa 8:53 AM  

When you're not able to finish a Monday, you feel empty inside.

For this guy, who studied Spanish in high school, AVOTRESANTE crossed with RAYE crossed with ORAN = FAIL.

So...I understand that this does happen sometimes, and I usually try to be optimistic and say to myself "well, at least you learned something." But here, I have no clue what AVOTRESANTE means, or even how to pronounce it. I don't feel like I learned something, I just feel like I got Maleskaed.


jackj 9:02 AM  


To your health.

jackj 9:04 AM  

With constructors frequently indulging in “too much of a good thing” by overloading their puzzles with five, seven, even ten, theme related entries, Ed Sessa shows his over ambitious peers that less is more with only three theme clues, giving us a puzzle with the elegant simplicity of a haiku as against the complexity of an epic poem gone kerflooey.

Ed’s three theme clues are each devilishly clever offerings that turn a typical breakfast into mini-quandaries as “Pancakes” actually pancake, “Waffles” proceed to waffle and “French toast” brilliantly toasts us with A VOTRE SANTE.

As an added plus, the puzzle’s fill has been graced with equal attention and we are treated to lively Monday entries, headlined by the IDLERICH and backed up by a rascally SCALAWAG, obsolescent PHONEBOOKS and a large helping of NONSENSE that answers to the call of “Gobbledygook”.

So, I DOFF my hat to Ed who shows us that the END justifies DEMEANS, with nothing AMISS or SECONDRATE about this effort.

A delightful puzzle that reminds us that minimalism can be a savory treat on Mondays.

Thanks, Ed.

Happy birthday, 31*.

chefbea 9:04 AM  

Happy b-day Rex. Enjoy your day and your cake.

Easy fun puzzle...knew right away the answer for French toast.

I do have a recipe that calls for a good slab of bacon. Can't wait to make it

Half Awake 9:06 AM  

For a long while I've been trying to solve both the Monday and Tuesday puzzles by first guessing the answer to the clue without looking at how many letters it consists of just for fun. And on Mondays I try to complete the puzzle without using any of the theme answers just to make it a little more challenging. If I had the time, I would do the Monday puzzles as diagramless puzzles. (The Times publishes a diagramless puzzle about once a month on Sunday, and it usually feels like a Monday difficulty level.) It's a little difficult trying not to look at the grid, but it is possible. Of course, you can write your answers on a blank sheet of paper and fill them in after you go through the clues the first time. It actually makes the Monday puzzle a bit more fun. Usually, I wind up filling in about half the letters on Monday's puzzles without looking at the word count in advance.

Carola 9:35 AM  

Loved the breakfast puzzle! Complete with SLABS of bacon - thank you for that @joho. And there are TUMS provided if we go with all of the choices. Oh - and my little granddaughter gets her waffle cut up into squares on her plate along with a little pool of maple syrup which serves as a DIP.

Loved the IDLE RICH - do they even need to think about the IRAS they cross with?

Same here on thinking of Dun(n), MOue, SluGS and runs, and wondering if that VOTRE/ RAYE/ ORAN area isn't a TAD tough for a Monday.

Thanks, Ed Sessa! Delectable.

John V 9:46 AM  

Happy B-Day, @Rex. Great to be old enough to drive at night, you know?

Piece of cake/f-toast; 6 miler, Rowayton to Stamford. Didn't need the theme as it just worked. Re: "A Votre Sante", immediately thought of Mephistopheles in Gounod's Faust: "
Prenez garde, mon brave !
Vous vous ferez tuer nar quelqu'un que
je sais!
(Prenant le verre des mains de Wagner.")
A votre sante!...
(Jetant le contenu du verre, apres
avoir trempe ses levres.)
Peuh ! que ton vin est mauvais !...
Permettez-moi de vous en effrir de ma cave! " Do not go drinking with the devil, at least on Monday, is my advice.

Fun, very easy.

jberg 9:57 AM  

Very easy, but then I say A Votre Sante all the time, and am old enough to remember Martha RAYE. Not absolutely sure that it was ORAN and not ORel, but I guessed right.

It's been said already, but I want to echo the sentiment that 3 great theme entries are better than 5, 6, or 7 that don't match well. These are not only all made with flour and eggs, you cook them all in a skillet or on a griddle, and then you pour maple syrup over them. These three pretty much exhaust that category, so putting in two more would have made the puzzle weaker, not stronger.

I'm puzzled by the PAPAW carping - the definition @Rex quotes seems to make it clear. I've never seen one in the flesh, but if they look like bananas and taste like bananans, that makes them "banana-like" enough for me, even if "custard-apple-like" would be more accurate.

Happy Birthday, @Rex! I wish you many more happy years of turning out these great blogs!

Sandy K 10:34 AM  

@ Rex- Happy Birthday!

You and @Loren were correct about
59A. It did slow me down a bit, but lucky for the crosses, not as much as the SNAIL, or should I say escargot, I became doing the BEQ barrage.

Still thought it was firstRATE- not DRAB, no NONSENSE and no TUMS needed.

mac 11:45 AM  

Easy-medium, with a write-over at scaliwag. I also wanted that i.

I thought it was an IHOP theme, which would have been timely. Rex loves that place and maybe he had breakfast there on his birthday.

Exellent puzzle! Happy birthday and hope the cake turned out great!

lawprof 11:48 AM  

If I were a constructor - which I'm not - and my puzzle were accepted by the NYT for a Friday or Saturday, I'm sure my head would swell with pride because the end-of-the-week puzzles, being the most difficult, are ipso facto the most sophisticated. Conversely, the Monday/Tuesday puzzles, being easy, are less sophisticated. That, of course, is utter nonsense, as today's effort by Ed Sessa demonstrates.

The "worth" of a puzzle (however one might define it) seems to be dependent not on its difficulty as measured by the time it takes to solve it, but on any number of other ineffable characteristics, among which are its fun factor, freshness, elegance and...well, whatever else it takes to make it worthy and wonderful. It's hard to put into words, but we know a good puzzle when we see it.

Ellen S 11:55 AM  

Happy birthday @Rex! You and the bride cook each other cakes for your birthdays? Very nice!

There is a community of PAPAW enthusiasts (hope I got the syntax right for the link) that is pretty convinced they are "banana-like":
PAWPAW [Papaw]
Asimina triloba (Linnaeus) Dunal
OTHER NAMES: Wild Banana. Custard Apple. Fetidshrub.
RANGE: From northern Florida to western New York State, the northern shores of Lake Ontario, southern Michigan and southwestern Iowa, and west to southeastern Nebraska, eastern parts of Kansas and Oklahoma and eastern Texas.
Papaw or pawpaw or banana tree - a tropical fruit that you can grow in your temperate-zone home-garden. Papaws (often mispelled pawpaw) are one of the forgotten fruits of North America. They are members of the custard apple family with a fruit that compares favorably with bananas.

I never knew all that, or never knew I knew it. No trouble with the clue at any rate. Nice puzzle. I'm getting a little tired of TUMS but happy to see Dalmatian spelled correctly (people always spell it --ion). But you're not supposed to name them simply SPOT, though. Part of the fun of owning one is thinking up punny spot-related names.

@Waaaa, sorry the French toast tripped you up. As @jackj said, it means "to your health", pronounced
"Ah VOTE-ruh SAHN-tay." (Or maybe it's "sahn-TAY" but never mind, after the second glass it's only the alcohol content that counts.)

John V 11:57 AM  

@lawprof re: what makes a great puzzle. A great Monday = fun,accessible theme, esp for newbies and minimal crossword-ese, abbreviations and partials, especially in the corners. Hard to do this in a high word count puzzle. Mr. Sessa succeded. A VOTRE SANTE!

Masked and Anonymo2Us 11:58 AM  

Happy B-Day, 31. And chip in "a voter's ante" to you, too. Put me in the "toast" category, when it comes to knowin' any long French phrases.

Very enjoyable MonPuz. Despite the paltry U-count, which didn't quite pass my breakfast test. But, hey -- the LA Times puz helped re-balance the M&A diet, thank U.

[Cinnamon roll] = PIECEDERESISTANCE.

Anonymous 12:50 PM  

Hit up #Karmaloop for that CyperMonday special and use the #PromoCode M3MLOV3

Sparky 1:07 PM  

Happy Birthday Rex. Slainte. Please show a picture of the cake.

Hand up for moue, but the down fixed it. Pleasant way to start the week. The long downs nice. I hang onto my phonebooks for addresses plus I just like books not screens.

Bird 1:27 PM  

A nice easy Monday puzzle. No writeovers and no errors.

Two observations . . .

1) Only 3 theme answers? Not a complaint. Just curious why the constructor stopped there. Did the fill suffer? Couldn’t think of anymore? There’s bacon, but no eggs (Fried eggs = BRAIN ON DRUGS).

2) Random Greek letter at 39D. Is there any other way to clue ETA besides Greek letter and arrival time?

@Rex – Happy Birthday!

@Glimmerglass – Thank you. I was trying to remember plantain.

Happy Cyber Monday!

Gerrythek 1:34 PM  

How and why did French become the second langauage of the NYT puzzle? Spanish has far more speakes work-wide as well as in NYC. Certainly Hindi, German and Portuguese have as many speakers as French. And yet I'll bet that there is as much French in the puzzle as all the others combined.

P.S. Happy Birthday Rex!

Anonymous 1:40 PM  

Where oh where is dear little Nellie?
Where oh where is dear little Nellie?
Where on where is dear little Nellie?
Way down yonder in the pawpaw patch.

Pickin' up pawpaws, put 'em in your pocket
Pickin' up pawpaws, put 'em in your pocket
Pickin' up pawpaws, put 'em in your pocket
Way down yonder in the pawpaw patch.

Lewis 1:53 PM  

Whoever named the papaw "fetidshrub" had no imagination.

syndy 2:10 PM  

Looked up pictures of PAPAW and sorry they look nothing like a banana -more like a mango!(sorry Joe-what you get by relying on the internet!) I never saw AVOTRESANTE;I did it by crosses.Too bad I could have used my 3 years of hs french! easy but not too for a monday! Happy birthday! REXAL

Two Ponies 3:31 PM  

Nice start to the week. Good one Ed.
Happy Birthday Rex.
I was surprised by the French toast as well but the crosses were Monday-easy so why not?
@ Gerry Kahle, I don't think the NYT leans toward any certain demographic based on numbers of speakers. There are more French words and influence in English than most people imagine.

Anonymous 4:31 PM  

Puzzle is unsolveable for those like me who you don't know Martha RAYE and have never heard AVOTRESANTE before. The missing 'R' is actually not so easily inferred if you aren't expecting a french answer.

John in Philly 4:43 PM  

Great Monday puzzle - fresh, interesting, no drek as fill. Loved it!

Z 4:51 PM  

Martha RAYE's last fim was 1979, last TV appearance was 1985 and last appearance on stage was 1989. That's 24 years since she was in the public eye. I couldn't name one work that she was in before I looked her up on Wikipedia. Yet she was a gimme for me.

If you didn't know her before this puzzle, you ought to open a small neural connection or two in your crosswordese dictionary since she is certain to return to a crossword near you.

sanfranman59 5:04 PM  

Midday report of relative difficulty (see my 8/1/2009 post for an explanation of my method):

All solvers (median solve time, average for day of week, ratio, percentile, rating)

Mon 6:28, 6:46, 0.96, 32%, Easy-Medium

Top 100 solvers

Mon 3:51, 3:41, 1.05, 77%, Medium-Challenging

@Z (responding to the question you posed in the Saturday blog comments) ... yes, I'm now quite convinced that there's been a significant change in the sample of solvers who submit correct solutions online and the change is causing my approach to under-estimate the difficulty in the "All solvers" group. I've been tinkering with what to do about it. Right now, I'm leaning toward calculating each day's "normal" median solve time using a sliding 26 week period (half-year). I've tried using 13 weeks, but that's been yielding a less stable "normal" than I'd like. I'm also going to use the median median solve time rather than the mean median solve time as I have been to date. That's really more appropriate since the distribution of median solve times is not normal, in the statistical sense of that word (particularly for early week puzzles for which there's a pretty significant floor effect ... i.e. the fastest solvers are probably pretty close to solving the easiest puzzles as fast as is humanly possible). Using both the 26-week and the 13-week period, today's puzzle rates as Medium-Challenging in both groups. This feels more right to me than the Easy-Medium shown above (I believe they call this "face validity" in Stat 101 ... at least they did back in the day).

Bird 5:15 PM  

My strongest memories of Martha Raye are from the Polident commercials and for being the witch in Pufnstuf. A gimme for me.

chefbea 5:55 PM  

I remember Martha Raye appearing with Milton Berle on his show. That was long ago in the black and white TV days

Sfingi 6:23 PM  

Pickin up PAwPAWS, put 'em in your pocket, way down yonder on the PAwPAW patch.

We said Pawpaw, not papaw.

Had a Natick at MAV crosses AVOTRESANTE, 2 categories of my ignorance - sports and French. I don't dare say, "Cent'an," at the Home, since some are in their 90s, and it would sound like, "Drop dead soon." But I'll tell you, it means, "May you live 100 years." I don't expect anyone to know Italian or German, but everyone expects one to know French (and sports).

Ellen S 6:44 PM  

@Syndy, looks like a mango, or maybe a lumpy plantain, but apparently banana-y on the inside.

@z, spot on about Martha Raye. She lives on in Crossword Heaven, along with Sonja Henie. Italo Calvino died almost 30 years ago, but he will never die in the NYT Crossworld. As a kid I had to memorize famous Jewish people; later I discovered gay people memorize famous gay people. These are famous crossword puzzle people. So...let's memorize them!

Z 6:48 PM  

@Bird - Once I saw the picture of her as Boss Witch I remembered her, too. But I think I learned who she was long after I watched HR Pufnstuf.

As for the predominance of French over other alien tongues in the NYT crossword puzzles, I suspect that the events of 1066 (or maybe I should write MLXVI?) might have something to do with it.

Z 6:50 PM  

Face Validity

Over my Limit. TTFN.

pannonica 6:54 PM  

"Bananalike" doesn't necessarily refer to the fruit's shape or phylogeny. Pa(w)paw are reminiscent of bananas in both texture and flavor. This notion is bolstered by a host of regional and historical names for Asimina triloba, as cited by Wikipedia: wild banana, prairie banana, Indiana banana, Hoosier banana, West Virginia banana, Kansas banana, Kentucky banana, Michigan banana, Missouri banana, the poor man’s banana, Ozark banana, banango.

skua76 8:09 PM  

Monday fail thanks to my nonexistent French. I pronounce SKALyWAG with the i sound, and yVOTRE SANTE looked fine.

I remain confused about the PAWPAW... now all of the photos and descriptions don't match what I thought it looked like...a grapefruit sized inedible ball covered with small round green protrusions, very common in northern Ohio. Now I have to find out what THAT is.

Although I was born not far from PAW PAW, Illinois.

Otherwise a fun puzzle, thanks Ed!

mac 8:25 PM  

Hey! I was watching "How I Met Your Mother" and I saw the word "Scaliwag".

sanfranman59 10:03 PM  

This week's relative difficulty ratings. See my 8/1/2009 post for an explanation. In a nutshell, the higher the ratio, the higher this week's median solve time is relative to the average for the corresponding day of the week.

All solvers (this week's median solve time, average for day of week, ratio, percentile, rating)

Mon 6:31, 6:46, 0.96, 37%, Easy-Medium

Top 100 solvers

Mon 3:44, 3:41, 1.01, 63%, Medium-Challenging

Tita 10:24 PM  

Delicious, clever puzzle! After solving, I wondered if I could have solved the Jeopardy version of this theme - given the answers, with the category being Breakfast Foods, would I have come up with the clues?

As to flour and eggs being part of the "recipe" for French Toast, I remember a college friend of my brother's gaping in utter amazement when my mom came in with a piping hot plate full for us all one late evening...
He was aghast - "You made that from scratch??????

Thank you Mr. Sessa - another winning Monday.

Tita 10:26 PM  

I haven't been getting email follow-ups for a couple of weeks now - any one else having that problem?
Am not getting them at my blog website either.

Sfingi 10:42 PM  

@Z - if 1066 is the natural source of the assumption we should know French in our bones, then 1065 should be the natural indicator that we should also know German, Anglo-Saxon being a Germanic Language.
We may know French derivatives in English, such as, say, "saint." But VOTRE never made it. Furthermore, should we know "heilige" because it is the root of "holy"? I haven't yet met an English speaker who hasn't learned the word outside of English who recognizes it. T'would be lovely if the root words popped up on their own automajically as one reads English.

Milford 11:38 PM  

I think it's fair to say most would know that Notre Dame means Our Lady, so I don't think it's much of a stretch, especially with any Romance language background, to deduce that VOTRE means your.

Anonymous 11:46 PM  

@Sfingi - The fruit of the Osage Orange tree.

Anonymous 11:49 PM  

My wife and I thought there was a double-letter subtheme going on. OONA crossing ANNA crossing FLATTENSOUT, AROOM adjacent to NILLA, ... Perhaps the constructor goes by EDDie SeSSa?

acme 1:07 AM  

@waaaaa 8:53am

Don't feel bad! This was a Tuesday/ Wednesday puzzle
theme masquerading under a few spoonfuls of syrup as a Monday!

Acme 3:25 AM  

Also, I wonder if 11 15 11 is the least amount of theme squares allowed?
This puzzle broke a lot of Monday rules (PAPAW, SCALAWAG, long French answer)
Strange but nice.
I love that on "Diary of a Crosword Fiend" the Monday reviewer titled it "Griddle me This", yet another consistency that added to the tightness, tho lightness, of the theme.

Here's hoping that three can go back to being the new three!
So often when there are four, one is an outlier and takes away from the gestalt.

Z 7:27 AM  

@sfingi - I am hardly the first to suggest that the Norman Conquest resulted in a courtly language rooted in French and a vulgar tongue rooted in Anglo-Saxon. This is still clearest today in profanity vs acceptable language. Ass is vulgar, derriere is perfectly okay. So it is hardly surprising to me that we would see more French than Spanish, Dutch, Italian, or German in the puzzle. That's not saying A VOTRE SANTE has made it into the language, only that I'm not as surprised as others at the recent profusion of French.

Now I'm two over the limit, so I'm shutting up, now.

Ellen S 11:28 AM  

@Tita -- I'm getting the email followups. But sometimes I have to reclick the request that they be sent. You checked your spam folder of course?

@sfingi -- many decades ago when my mother was teaching elementary school in Chicago, they decided to offer a language class. Since Chicago had the second highest population of Spanish-speakers in the country, my mom suggested that be the language offered. The principal said, "We will not teach the language of a subject people." So it was between German and French, the languages of empire. I guess the defeat of the the Spanish Armada was their defeat linquistically, or the school principal was a racist jerk. Take your pick. Anyway, I took French in high school, never have an opportunity to use it, Spanish would be soooooo useful, but at least I knew "a votre sante".

Spacecraft 10:54 AM  

Can a puzzle be easy and "good" at the same time? Yes! We start with a delightful twist: the theme is not in the grid at all--it's in the clues! Didn't even notice till I was all "DUNN." I looked at it and thought: where's the frickin theme? It's only Monday! Only then did it hit.

The French toast filled in on crosses, but I did recognize it after it was in. I echo OFL's praise of the marvelous long downs.

If I were to go picking nits, I'd mention the clue for 55d: it has to be some kind of violation to add one letter to the answer--unscrambled--and use that as a clue ("I'm Adam" for MADAM). I mean, it's right there!

Maybe "Waffles" isn't the most accurate clue for BLOWSHOTANDCOLD; it'd be spot-on for, say, CHANGESPOSITION. But hey, you can't have everything. Then you'd be one of the IDLERICH.

A far cry from SECONDRATE, Ed! And, many happy returns, O fearless one!

DMGrandma 2:12 PM  

Enjoyed the puzzle and finding out the theme answers wouldn't be found on the breakfast menu. Had to replace gulpS with SWIGS, but otherwise smooth sailing.


Dirigonzo 3:57 PM  

I love PHONEBOOKS - they're my go-to resource whenever I'm looking for an address or shopping for something. "Let your fingers do the walking..." and all that. So when I read in the puzzle that they are obsolescent I thought about it and realized how limited their usefulness has become. I'm still not ready to give up on them, though.

Didn't we just have CHER as the goddess of pop or some such clue? Nice to see her back in her real-life role of mom.

Among the crowd I drink with a SWIG is a swallow but a big swallow is a SluG, and it's just rude to take a slug when you're offered a swig.

It's New Year's Eve, so I may have a SWIG or two to toast Happy New Year to all!

Anonyrat 8:17 AM  

"is À VOTRE SANTÉ gonna hold some folks back ...?" Seriously? Only those folks who don't speak French. I mean, sure, all the people I know say a votre sante at least five times a day, but other less civilized folks might not be so fortunate. :-P How is that even remotely a Monday answer? And crossing it with an Algerian port? On a Monday?
Ex Cessa once again delivered a steaming pile of merde. I'm not sure what Ed's obsession with French is but I wish he'd get over it, or at least start submitting his puzzles to French newspapers instead. He is very quickly becoming my least favorite constructor.
@ Waaaaa 8:53 AM - Yes, exactly. Except you got Sessaed rather than Maleskaed. If you're not fluent in French, just skip his puzzles.
@ Bird 1:27 PM - Yes, there is. "Occurrence at a frat party: Beta ___ Theta."
@ Gerry Kahle 1:34 PM - It's a cultural sub-group thing, I think.
@ Milford 11:38 PM - It's not fair, and it is a stretch. Thanks to you I just learned what "Notre Dame" means. And even if I had known "notre" means "our," I would not have guessed "votre" means "your" despite having had six years of a Romance language (Spanish). While "our" in Spanish is "nuestra" which is somewhat close to "notre", "your" in Spanish is either "tu" or "su", and not, e.g., "vuestra". If knowing Spanish would help with figuring out all the French in the puzzles, especially Ed's, it wouldn't annoy me as much. But, as @ Gerry Kahle alluded to, according to the 2000 Census, over 17 times as many people in this country speak Spanish as French, and more people speak Chinese than French. Yet we see much much more French in the puzzles than Spanish, and no Chinese. As I noted earlier, the whole Francophilia phenomenon appears to be an affectation of a particular sub-group which seems to comprise the majority of puzzle constructors.

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